I was at the Cambridge Main Library Saturday afternoon when I saw a CCTV camera crew come in. For those of you new to the area, if you see a CCTV camera, you should check out what's going on, because I can assure you that it will be documenting something interesting.
Following the camera to the bowels of the library basement, I found the auditorium swarming with people waiting for a 'massmouth high school scholarship Story Slam' competition to begin.
What is a massmouth Story Slam and why is it compelling so many people to prefer being in a basement rather than outside on one of the most glorious spring afternoons of the year?
The competition started and it was fabulous. One at at time, high school students rose to the stage and were given three minutes to tell a true story, with no props, notes or costumes. They were judged for the arc of their story, for how well it applies to five basic themes, and for the use of time within the limit. Some stories were funny, some were tragic, all were powerful.
Telling an interesting story in three minutes is not easy. Add to that bright spotlights, a mike, a TV camera, and an audience and things get harder. Add being a teenager and having to talk about an event that affected your life in significant ways and it's clear that it takes guts to sign up for this competition.
Here's the background story:
And here are massmouth's tips on telling a great short story:
- Know why your story is important to you and show us how you connect to your story.
- Add in details from the five senses: What do you see, hear, feel, smell or taste?
- Answer the main journalistic questions: who, when, where, what happened?
- Know how you want to begin and where and how you want to end.
- Memorize only these two parts.
- Practice out loud and to live listeners as often as you can.
And, you're in luck because you haven't missed your change to see this competition. Because it was a CCTV production, this event is going to be broadcast on a CCTV channel in the near future. Check it out.
(photo by S Segat)